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How To Break A Trauma Bond

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

What is trauma bonding? How can someone break a trauma bond?

How To Break A Trauma Bond

This article discusses what a trauma bond is. It also provides answers as to how someone can break a trauma bond, and start recovering from an abusive relationship.

What is a Trauma Bond?

A trauma bond is an abusive and unhealthy attachment, that develops from abuse. 

Trauma bonds are difficult to break. That is because while the abuser is abusive, the abuser will also show the victim affection.

This causes an unhealthy and toxic attachment, and it makes it difficult for the victim to leave the abusive relationship. 

How To Break a Trauma Bond 

1. Realize it’s a Trauma Bond 

The first step of breaking a trauma bond is to recognize that the abusive relationship is a trauma bond. 

Recognizing that a relationship is a trauma bond will usually not cause the relationship to immediately end. 

The victim is often very scared and conflicted, because the victim may focus on the times that the abuser was kind, and not abusive and toxic.

However, when a victim starts to recognize that they are in a trauma bond, it is the first step to getting out of the unhealthy, abusive relationship. 

The victim should try to remember that they do not deserve the abuse and that there is a way for them to escape.

Some victims may feel like they deserve the abusive relationship.

They should remind themselves that even if they feel like they deserve the abuse, which everyone would disagree with, they still have the right and freedom to leave the toxic relationship. 

2. Let Go Of What Could Be & Grieve 

It is often difficult for a victim to let go of a trauma bond. That is because the victim is thinking about the fake possibility of what the relationship could be.

The reality is, that a trauma bond and an abusive relationship can never be healthy and happy. 

It is dangerous, and the victim will always remain unhappy and in danger. The abuser cannot and will not change. 

It is normal for the victim to feel upset when they realize this. The victim is allowed to grieve their feelings while learning to let go of the abusive relationship.

While the victim may not feel like they deserve it, they should try to remember that they do deserve to feel happy, and they don’t deserve to be abused. 

3. Start Reality Training 

Reality training is when a victim makes a record of what is happening, or what has happened, in the relationship.

This is so that the victim can learn to realize that the relationship is abusive – not sometimes unhealthy, but an abusive trauma bond. Victims tend to focus when the abuser decides to be kind to them, instead of the abuser. 

Through reality training, the victim can reaffirm to themselves that they are in an abusive relationship and that they need to escape the relationship. 

It is critical that the victim does not write a record, in any place that the abuser can find the record. This might mean the victim writes a record at work, or on an email account that the abuser does not know of, and cannot have access to. 

The victim should write down what happened every day, and they can write when the abuser was nice to them, too. That’s because they will eventually notice that the abuser is not being nice and that it is an abusive pattern. 

4. Change Perspective 

How would you feel if your friend or family member had a relationship, that was similar to yours? How would you feel knowing that a loved one was abused?

How To Break A Trauma Bond (1)

The reality is, you would feel very sad and angry. You need to remember that hurt and anger because that also applies to you. You are no different from your loved ones, and you do not deserve the abuse that you are experiencing. 

The small moments of happiness will never make up for the abuse that occurred and is occurring. 

5. Get Professional Help 

There are many charities designed to help women and men escape toxic and abusive relationships.

Abusive relationships are highly dangerous, and it is critical that the victim finds a way to leave the relationship as quickly and safely as possible. 

A professional can help the victim create an escape plan. This may mean that the victim moves into their parents, or friends’ apartment after work, and never goes back to their own flat. Police or friends and family of the victim may go and collect their belongings. 

This is just one type of escape plan. A professional can and will help a victim find an escape plan that is safe for them. 

6. Tell Friends and Family 

Victims may feel too ashamed to tell their friends and family. It is important for the victim to remember that their friends and family will not judge them. It is never the victim’s fault, and everyone can end up in an abusive relationship. 

The victim’s friends and family can help them create an escape plan, or help support them until an escape plan can be made. 

7. Cut off Contact and Get Professional Help 

Once the victim is safe and away from the abuser, the victim should never contact the abuser again.

Ask your friends or family to remove the number from your phone, and block it. Ask them to block them on all social media. Ask them to call the police to ensure that the abuser cannot contact you. 

In an abusive relationship, a victim’s life is usually in danger. 

While it may be difficult to let go, it is critical for your safety to leave the relationship. It is normal to feel sadness and fear, but the safety of a victim depends on them getting to safety, and never contacting the abuser again. 

To deal with the emotions, a victim should consider therapy. If the victim contacted an organization to help them create an escape plan, they will usually offer therapy services to make sure that the victim remains safe. 


Breaking a trauma bond is difficult, but millions of people across the world have broken a trauma bond and escaped an unhealthy relationship.

Nobody deserves to be abused. If you are in an abusive relationship, please safely contact a professional (without the abuser knowing) and tell your friends and family.

It may be safer for a victim to tell their friends and family in person, without the abuser knowing.

Read More about Narcissist Abuse and Domestic Violence

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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